Updated: Mar 18
Over the years I have spent a great deal of time pedalling around on mountain bikes. My mother and I moved to Squamish when I was eight years old. It was around this time I met my good friend and soon to be cross country MTB 'prodigy' Holden Jones. We met in the school playground. Our introduction was simple and went something like "Hey dude! Our parents know each other." "Cool! Want to come over to play and ride bikes?" "YES!!". I owe a lot to Holden. He taught me all about the mountain bike scene. Who the fastest racers were, who Brandon Semenuk is (I still admire his talent to this day), where to find the best local jump spots, and what the most "sophisticated" bike brands were at the time. You know; what really matters when you are in grade four. Not to mention a brief unicycling phase we went through, but I'll save myself the embarrassment for another story.
Those early years in Squamish lit a fire of drive and determination to become the best possible mountain biker I could be. The years following my introduction to holden involved an obsession with slopestyle mountain biking. This eventually lead to landing my first backflip at thirteen years old. A pivotal moment that will not be forgotten. Although I was not old enough for competition I practiced somewhat religiously. Upon returning home from school I would pour over MTB movies inspecting every little detail before riding myself into exhaustion at the local dirt jumps with friends.
Very quickly my competitive drive took over my inspiration for spins and flips. I dove headfirst into the downhill race scene. I stuck in this amazing community for quite some time. Even landing a couple different sponsorship's with brands like "Intense Cycles" and "Troy Lee Designs". During this time I was very fortunate to work with some inspiring coaches . One coach and now friend whom I am incredibly grateful for is Joel Harwood (Blueprint Athlete Development). The Whistler Blackcomb DFX Race program is where Joel took me under his wing and taught me countless lessons such as racing with consistency, technical skills, but most importantly how to be humble, learn from failure, and be a good team player. I have a great deal of respect for Joel. He was by my side for many successes and failures throughout my teenage years and helped me achieve many personal goals. If you want to improve your riding Joel is the man. His no frills coaching style will have you realizing that training is not complicated and with grit, dedication, and good work ethic you can achieve your goals. My downhill years included Provincial, National titles and other consistent race results on the podium in between. Looking back I recognize that those arbitrary results do not matter at all. In retrospect what I find important is that those past race results were a product of strong work ethic, determination, and a caring community.
Enduro Mountain Bike Racing! "Wait.. Is that not regular just mountain biking?" "Sure is!". As I progressed in the genre of downhill mountain bike racing I quickly realized that I was not willing to take the risk's involved to race at a World Cup level. To a certain degree the environmental impact of "DH" racing was also loosing its appeal to me. The idea of Enduro mountain bike racing fell into my lap. I could use my "aerobic engine" and my technical downhill skills all while lowering my environmental footprint.. "Perfect" I thought. Then I met Evan Mant. A tall, quirky and kind teenager from North Vancouver. Evan and I hit it off, consistently making plans to ride and travel to races together. After some time in the Enduro scene long time mentor of mine Andrew Shandro offered us a spot on a new team. The Trek, Shimano BC Development Team was born. Both of us were somewhat in disbelief. I mean Trek and Shimano have some serious 'clout' in the industry. Soon enough we were off to the races, now as Junior's. This meant the realm of international racing was within our reach. With some strong results over the course of two seasons we made way to Colorado for an Enduro World Series with my mother and a close friend Kasper Wooley. If you haven't heard Kasper is pretty fast these days.. A side note: Kasper is one of the most impressive multitalented athletes who I have the pleasure of knowing.
Before the race we had the best of times. Probably goofing off more than the regiment American and European teams which may have reflected our results in this race (but hey, teenagers are supposed to have fun sometimes right?). While Kasper was bursting into the scene like a 'heat seeking missile' myself and Evan started to feel the pressure of having some legitimate sponsors. In hindsight I was probably just a little burnt out from the MTB racing scene (to clarify our sponsors did not put much pressure on us). I can't speak for Evan but I think he was having the same feelings towards mountain bike racing.
As quickly as the 'Trek BC Devo Team' emerged on the scene it mutually disappeared. Andrew went on to work with Trek Factory racing where his son Ethan crushed it in the world cup scene. The following season Evan and I both left the world of Mountain Bike racing with other endeavours. Evan was off to Engineering school at Queens University and I was realizing that I wanted to start putting this aerobic engine I had been developing throughout my childhood and adolescent years to good use.
The mountain bike industry left me with so many positive memories I could not fit them all into a book if I wanted to. I will forever be grateful for the friendships formed, countless opportunities, lessons learned, and amazing experiences.
However, Evan and I are not done with mountain biking in the slightest...
To be continued.